Endangered Primate Rescue Centre
To rescue and breed confiscated primates and to conduct primate field surveys in Vietnam
More than half of Vietnam consists of hills and mountains up to 3000 m asl. Originally nearly the whole country was covered by forests but nowadays, with a human population reaching 80 million people – about 225 people/km²– , only about 10 % of the forests is left. This is one of the reasons why wild animals are so endangered.
The primates of Vietnam include about 25 species or subspecies, including slow loris, macaques, langurs and gibbons, of which 10 are endemic to Vietnam. 16 species or subspecies are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Delacour’s langur (Trachypithecus delacouri), golden-headed langur (Trachypithecus geei), Tonkin snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus), and eastern black-crested gibbon (Nomascus nasutus) are even among the 25 most-threatened primate species wolrdwide. As a reult of unsustainable resource management, the habitat of many species of primates, particularly endemic ones, continues to decline dramatically. The WAZA In Situ Workshop, held at Chonburi (Thailand) in 2001, considered the surveillance and protection of primates in Vienam as a top priority.
The Delacour's Langur, described in Vietnam in 1932, has been considered extinct for a long time. But in 1990, an expedition of the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) and Münster Zoo provided evidence for its existence in Cuc Phuong National Park. Further studies revealed that a population of only 200-300 langurs, distributed among several isolated family groups, survived in the karst mountains of Northern Vietnam.
In 1993, two Delacour's langurs which had been poached in Cuc Phuong National Park were confiscated. From the necessity to provide temporary housing for these injured and suffering primates, the idea emerged to establish a rescue centre for confiscated primates and its realisation was initiated by Münster Zoo, ZGAP and Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). This primate station, the Endangered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, today houses more than 100 animals with representatives of 16 Indochinese primate taxa. Besides Delacour's langurs, also Hatinh langurs (Trachypithecus laotum hathinensis), Douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus, P. nigripes and P. cinerea), as well as several gibbon species (Nomascus concolor, N. gabriellae, and N. leucogenys) and lorises (Nycticebus coucang, Nycticebus pygmaeus), are kept and bred at the station. In addition to spacious complexes of cages, two semi-wild enclosures for gibbons and langurs were built.
In the long run, the EPRC plans to establish small stable ex situ populations of the most threatened primate species of Vietnam for an eventual re-introduction into their natural habitats. EPRC therefore does not limite itself to animal management and primatology within the centre, but also conducts field surveys and provides valuable information for urgently and focused conservation measures for the respective primate species.
WAZA Conservation Project 04008 is jointly operated by Münster Zoo, Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten und Populationsschutz (ZGAP), Frankfurt Zoological Society, Leipzig Zoo (all Germany) and Melbourne Zoo (Australia).
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